LooseCrew-JeffO: Zane Gray 50 - Part II


Ramblings of an adventurous guy living in Denver and playing in the mountains.
For my trail adventures, visit my Trail Bum blog

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Zane Gray 50 - Part II

Holbrook is not a good town to spend the night. Like the night before, trains sang me to sleep all night. The winds on the drive down were pretty bad for trying to go 75mph with mostly a head-wind. I don't think my CR-V was designed for 100mph+ sweeping across it. And the cargo topper didn't help. But it wasn't long before I dropped below the Mogollon Rim where the winds couldn't get to me.
I had never seen it before. It's not so impressive,but I've read several western novels where the Mogollon played a part.
The race finishes several miles from where highway 260 drops off. I stopped to check it out. I hiked down the trail about a kilometer and erected a stick to tell me the next day when I was almost done.
Then it was on to Payson to find Tiny's Italian Restaurant (packet pick-up). Once I pegged it, I drove to the start near Pine. There's plenty of places to park, and no fees or hassles about it. I then checked out about a kilometer of the beginning of the race.
I met Louie Telles from New Mexico. He's a really nice guy. Met him at Jemez and other races since then.
I went back to Payson for my packet and dinner. Got to meet Olga and Larry, and several other friends, but being so far from home, I didn't know as many people. I went to sleep around 9:30pm and had no trouble sleeping.
Wake-up was 4am. The race director was setting things up. I dropped off my dropbags and signed in. I noticed several DNS's on the list, but not sure how many starters. For a 50, there were quite a few DNF's at the Hatchery aid station.
The race started at 5am in the dark. Not much commotion. The RD simply said "go".

Here's some beta: Get warmed up before the race and get ahead. This race has some of the worst single-file traffic-jams of any race I've ever done. I had to have lost a good 20 minutes the first 8 miles until Geronimo aid station. But I was in good company, and I never do so well the first time on any course, so I just tried not to bump into the guys ahead.
After Geronimo, we climbed some more, and I got stuck one last time in another jam. But this time I think I only lost 4-5 minutes. We climbed pretty high, and the veiws began to really pay off.

Oh yes, there were lots of rocks. It was exaggerated, though. True, this is a very rocky course. The rockiest? That's what I heard. If you're a billy-goat like me, the rocks weren't such a bad thing. Even on the course, someone told me it was worse than Bandera. I'm not so sure. Probably, but so comparable.

There was the usual desert cacti, but they weren't the toughest vegetation - not even close. It was these bushes that grew especially thick in the burn areas. The branches on virtually any tree or bush are normally pliable, and you can brush past. Not so with this wicked-tough brush. You try to brush by a little branch and it grabs and almost stops your leg. As your leg powers through, it scratches little gouges in your shins. So we all had some pretty narly legs when done.
One guy was obviously a veteran. He had cut off some tube-socks and wore the tops above his regular socks all the way up to his knees. That way, if a branch grabbed the socks, the tube would only turn while protecting his skin.

Here's some clips to show you what the burn areas were like. In the first one, you can see some of the wicked brush, but with dead limbs. The dead branches were even worst; hardened and bleached by the sun.

It was tough, and it was FUN! This all made me feel like a kid again.

Here's Larry King right before he passed me the first time. We traded positions a couple of times, but ultimately he blew by me in the last few miles with enough speed to get 5 minutes ahead.

I got very dehydrated in the middle of the race. I tried to use two 20oz bottles. It wasn't enough. At Hatchery A.S., I had to use my hydration bladder. I left with 2 liters of water, plus 40 ounces of sport drink. I downed two e-caps, drank a V-8, and ate potato chips and banana. Three gels and nearly a gallon of water... I had to re-hydrate. My calories were good. My electrolytes were good. I was just dry. There's a couple of significant climbs after Hatchery. Climbing with nearly a gallon of water is a hike, but I had to reverse the damage. Somewhere around mile 40, my legs came back.
I DNF'd too many 100's to forget the lesson. You ain't "done". Just load up and keep going.

Here's the last aid station, See Canyon, as I left, I stopped for a photo. The aid stations were fantastic. They really did get us through fast. I love these people!!

The furthest I ever got lost was about 10 feet off-course. It was a hard course to mark, but they did it flawlessly. I've heard that this race wasn't well-organized, but that isn't true anymore, if it ever was. Since this is my first running, and the 20th year of the race, I have no experience with what it used to be. All I can say is the only hitch is getting away from the finishline. You're left to your own methods. There is an $18 shuttle available if you plan that much. I'm not sure how that can work, though. There's no cellphone coverage from the finish area. And who knows when they'll finish, for sure?

Lucky for me, I met Erin S last year at the Leadville 100 Training Camp. She showed up with her boyfriend, Rafael.

I was 34th out of 76 finishers, and I don't know how many DNF's. It was a lousy showing, but I think this year will be that way. I've had too many injuries to get any real training. So i had better get used to just enjoying running.

Just in case, I also somewhat hooked up with Larry, Olga, and Angie.
After reading Angie's blog for 2-3 years, I finally got to meet her. Let me tell ya, her blog doesn't do her justice. You have to meet her to get the "Angie-effect". Angie is the most "real" person I think I've ever met. Somehow, I have to meet her again, even if just moments at a time at aid stations during the Javelina Jundred.

I'm going to have a part three - my day wasn't over!


At 7:38 AM, Blogger Nick said...

Great run, Jeff! Looks like you'll be racing your way back into shape. See you in Buena Vista!


At 7:41 AM, Blogger Justin Mock said...

Good report, keep it coming.

At 9:14 AM, Anonymous Audrey said...

Hey, it's great to hear you had FUN (you write it in capitals too!). Amazing what you can accomplish on so little training! Congratulations and beautiful pics. Crazy finish line logistics! I guess with trail runners taking care of their own it call kind of works out.

At 12:23 PM, Blogger olga said...

Dude, thanks for great video-reminders! Don't you love sufferfest? Usually after it's over:) You did great, and lets make it an annual meeting!

At 12:27 PM, Blogger olga said...

Speaking of brushes and their non-pliable thickness - I got brushes on my legs besides scratches:) And what is that Larry and another dude doing walking on a good stretch? Slacking off, boys!

At 2:02 PM, Blogger Larry said...

Good to meet you Jeff! And, great job on the run. And, Olga... I was saving myself for the last 17 miles so I could actually run on that insane course! Lots of fun!!!


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